New Jersey has a hiking trail lined with handmade fairy houses

A list of unusual things you might stumble upon during a walk in the woods of New Jersey: rare Piebald deer; curious geological formations; an extinct volcano; the ruins of an old ironworks; a telephone pole farm; a terrifying, kangaroo-like beast with wings, hooves and a forked tail.

And then there are the handmade fairy habitats that line the Rahway Trail, an unexpectedly fanciful footpath within northeast New Jersey’s sprawling South Mountain Reservation.

Conceived by the Olmsted Brothers in the late 19th century, the 2,100-acre nature reserve located entirely within Essex County is home to numerous standout natural features: dramatic waterfalls, tranquil ponds, babbling brooks and gently rolling wooded hills bisected by popular hiking trails. Yet along the Rahway Trail, the vibe is decidedly more whimsical than anything else thanks in part to the wood nymph-friendly handiwork of local resident and non-imp Therese Ojibway.

Recently identified as the creator and chief custodian of the so-called South Mountain Fairy Trail, Ojibway — aka “Thumbelina’s secret architect” — has quietly and anonymously installed intricately designed fairy furnishings — ladders, doors, sprite-sized seats and more — in gnarled stumps, tree hollows, root formations and other oft-overlooked nooks and crannies along the 1-mile footpath for the past five years.

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